PORT KLANG (Bernama): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the United States has assured that Malaysia is the owner of the superyacht Equanimity and as such, free to do anything they want with it.
The Prime Minister said the US Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation had revealed that the vessel was acquired by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, using funds siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
"The DoJ investigated and they found this yacht belonged to Jho Low and that the money he paid for it was stolen money from 1MDB," he told reporters after touring the superyacht at the Boustead Cruise Centre here Saturday (Aug 11).
The luxury ship was handed over to Malaysia by Indonesia on Aug 7.
Dr Mahathir said the US had the documents to prove this.
"They have assured us that this is Jho Low's boat and they said, if we want to keep it, we are entitled to it because this is ours and bought with stolen Malaysian money, and when we eventually sell this boat we're entitled to the proceeds," he said.
Dr Mahathir said that the purchase of the vessel, estimated to be worth RM1bil, was an exercise in money laundering.
"When you steal money you have to put it somewhere. So in order to hide the money, they buy properties or ships like thisand they think that this way the money that they have stolen is clean," he said.
He said the Government planned to sell the luxury ship as soon as possible as maintenance costs alone amounted to RM2mil every month.
Dr Mahathir also dared Jho Low to come and claim ownership of the vessel.
"Jho Low claims that it belongs to him. Well he can come and claim," he said.
The Equanimity was seized off the coast of Bali by Indonesia in February at the request of US authorities as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption probe launched by the DoJ over 1MDB.
However, an Indonesian court ruled in April that the seizure was illegal and that the yacht should be returned to its owners.
But Indonesian authorities seized the yacht again in July following a formal request for legal assistance from the US. Indonesia then agreed it would hand over the superyacht to Malaysia. – Bernama
Dr M at Port Klang to 'inspect' Jho Low's superyacht Equanimity
Dr M Equanimity is very luxurious
Dr M to Jho Low: Prove Equanimity is yours, or it goes to the highest bidder